California Supreme Court clarifies rules
on speedy trial claims
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
March 30, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The California
Supreme Court ruled today that the right to speedy trial isn't
necessarily violated when a defendant who is in jail on earlier
charges is not arraigned on new charges until after he is released.
The court issued the decision in the case of a Tracy man, Daniel
Lowe, who was accused of possessing a pipe bomb and being under
the influence of methamphetamine as he sat in a car outside his
estranged wife's home in San Jose.
Police said they found the pipe bomb containing gunpowder along
with several knives and a toy gun with a laser sight on Oct. 19,
2002, after Lowe's estranged wife told them Lowe had been threatening
A month later, Lowe was arrested and sent to jail in Alameda
County for violating his probation conditions for a separate 2001
conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
Santa Clara County prosecutors filed the bomb and methamphetamine
charges against Lowe in February 2003 and did not arraign him
until he was released from Alameda County jail in July.
Lowe claimed the five-month delay in his arraignment violated
his California constitutional right to a speedy trial because
he lost the chance to serve his second possible sentence at the
same time as his Alameda County sentence. A state appeals court
in San Jose agreed and dismissed the bomb charges.
But the high court, in a ruling issued in San Francisco, said
that argument alone didn't justify dismissal of the charges.
The court said unanimously that a defendant would have to argue
that other factors resulting from the delay, such as loss of evidence
or unavailability of a witness, would deny him a fair trial.
The panel sent the case back to Santa Clara County Superior Court
for reinstatement of the charges. Lowe will still be able to argue
that other factors would justify dismissal of the charges.
His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Brian Matthews, had no immediate
comment on the case.
Deputy District Attorney Marilyn Masciarelli said, "This
ruling makes it clear they don't get their cases dismissed just
for that (delay)."
Masciarelli said the prosecution of Lowe will continue and said
she expected it to be successful because she believed "we
still have the bomb" as evidence.
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